Bananarama 1
A Cut Above the Rest: The all-conquering princesses of pop on the set of US music TV show Hold Tight in 1987

 

Bomb the Bass Drum

By Keeley Moss

 

I Can’t Help It, Bananarama’s 18th single, released on December 27th 1987, has never been cited as one of their best, and over the years it has been continually overlooked by even the group themselves. Until the 2017 tour dates with Siobhán they hadn’t performed it live even a single time since a gig at Aston Villa Leisure Centre in 1989, and while in early 1988 I Can’t Help It reached #20 in the UK charts (and #47 in the US) it has never been regarded as one of their signature hits. I’ve never heard or read anyone mention it even. But it is brilliant.

The bass drum alone is worth the price of admission – listen to it on headphones and you won’t just hear the bass drum, you’ll feel it. THUD-THUD-THUD-THUD-THUD-THUD it goes, underpinning the track with the fattest platform possible, the central secret ingredient in this barnstorming (and bar-storming) pop pot-pourri.

It’s what the ‘Nanas did best – soundtracking the growing (and groaning) pains of love and all the ugly bits at the end (and in the middle). Though overlooked or looked-down-upon by the critical cognoscenti of the day (and still to this day) as being nowhere near as important as yer Smiths, yer Echo and the Bunnymens and yer New Orders, in their own way Bananarama were and are every bit as vital to the pantheon of pop as their more critically-garlanded brethren.

Speaking of The Smiths, Siobhán Fahey, ever the switched-on musical magpie, would have her ears pricked by that band’s under-the-radar rockabilly stomper Shakespeare’s Sister enough to adopt it’s title for the name of her post-Bananarama solo project, the deliberately-misspelled Shakespear’s Sister, founded by Siobhán in 1988 and which would soon expand to a duo following the addition of Marcella Detroit in 1989.

But that’s another story. Sorry to digress.

But I can’t help it.

 

 

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Copyright: Keeley Moss ℗&©2020. All rights reserved.

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Acknowledgements

I Can’t Help It written by Fahey/Woodward/Dallin/Stock/Aitken/Waterman. Published by Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., BMG Rights Management, A Side Music LLC D/B/A Modern Works Music Publishing ©1987

Published under Fair Use policy

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